Helen-Marie O’Malley talks about the wives left behind when soldiers go to war in INVALID VOICE
July 17, 2018  //  By:   //  Edinburgh, Interviews, Written Interviews  //  Comments are off

Name: Helen-Marie O’Malley
Name of Edinburgh show: inVALID voices
Venue: army@thefringe in association with Summerhall
Performance time: 4pm
Show length: 1 Hour
Ticket price: £12 (£10)

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I studied acting and directing at the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow, from there I became Assistant Director to Philip Howard and John Tiffany at the Traverse Theatre for 18 months. I have recently completed a Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University where I started to write this play.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
This play is about three women who are married to Commonwealth soldiers in the British Army. The play is based on interviews with Armed Forces wives in Edinburgh. The play gives and insight as to what the women must put up with when the soldiers are deployed, we see their strength and vulnerability – the triggers which affect their mental health and we go on a journey with them as they describe their respective cultures which includes stories and music and dance from Fiji and Scotland.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I had a 20 minute version performed at the Tron Theatre last year – it was very well received, I decided to develop the it into a full length piece – so I have been working on it for about 18 months.

It is relevant to audiences today because of the recent Windrush Scandal regarding the ILR fees that the Commonwealth soldiers and their wives have to pay to stay in this country. The relevance of the plight of the wives – this is a recurring story – I think it is time the British Public knew a wee bit more about what happens when we send our soldiers into a warzone.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Make sure you wear comfortable shoes – we walk everywhere in Edinburgh so always carry your flats in your bag – and be sure to eat! Little, healthy and often.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
My first major role at college was playing Prospero for half of the Tempest – the latter half with the big important speeches. The Director had created a set with small plinth walkways that the cast had to walk across as if we were over water, I was so busy concentrating on not falling off and into the imaginary water I completely forgot all of my lines – it could only have been a few minutes but it felt like hours.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
I love actors/directors/writers who take risks. Last year at the Traverse I was really moved by Josette Bushell-Mingo’s ‘Nina – A story about me and Nina Simone’ – there was a moment in the play where she becomes quite accusatory and you are not sure whether she is still acting or whether she is really talking to you personally – the reaction of the audience was profound. A remarkable piece of work. I really hope to see something as dynamic this year.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I like to spend a little time on my own – it doesn’t have to be long just a few minutes to do some breathing and gather my thoughts.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
All of the performances which are on at our venue army@thefringe – a wonderful mix of Dance and Theatre and Martín Zimmerman’s – ‘On the exhale’ at the Traverse.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
I think people are naturally curious about the Armed Forces and War – yet so many plays and films have covered almost every angle – this is different – this is a fly on the wall with the women dong the talking – they do not need to mind what they say in front of a high ranking officer like a soldier does – they can tell it like it is…

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